Depending on the weather, the days events, and other factors, I find myself with a different emotion everyday when I write which I'm afraid is making my novel a little bit choppy. For example, one chapter might be portrayed in a light mood, while the very next, for no literary reason, is written much darker because I received a bad phone call while I was writing. What I've tried to do is to abstain from writing until I'm in the appropriate mood with which I had started off the piece, but this is stopping me from writing on it a regular basis and slowing down the whole process significantly. I'm afraid that keeping the same personality is becoming more difficult as I stretch the length of time which which I'm writing it as I'm becoming a different person. So how do experience writers help get into a specific "writing mood" for the piece they are working on?
I read somewhere, don't ask where because I forgot, that if you wait for the right mood to write, you won't get anything done.
So, I think if you just try to sit in front of your computer/paper, relax for a few minutes and delve into your character's mind, it would be better than to just not write until your mood gets better. It's hard, I know because I struggle with it too, but maybe in time it gets easier. Try to write at least a 100 words. It'd be better than nothing. Also, music might help. Putting a song in the background, very low if you don't like to hear music while you write, that goes with the tone of the scene, could help you keep the scene consistent.
One solution that usually works is to write when you wake up, when nothing has happened in the day. I write for two hours every morning. My alarm is set for 4:30 AM, I am at the keyboard by 5:00 AM, and I write until 7:00 AM. Nobody calls, the only interruptions are the dog asking to go outside and refilling my coffee cup.
This might fail if a multi-day disaster befell me, like a death in the family, or a car accident. But typically, at least for me, irritations and foul moods dissipate over a night of sleep and don't bother me in the morning.
If you don't have time every morning, you can solve it by doing the same on one of your days off, perhaps like a Sunday after a Saturday so your mood is more predictably stable.
If you aren't a morning person, try writing after an afternoon nap.
Finally, you can do the same thing after you finish the novel and go through an edit for a second draft. Find a way to write with a stable attitude, and even out the tone then to make it consistent.
How I do it is, sit down with a laptop, start with a journal first, write down your thoughts, feelings, and what's been going on. Switch over to the document holding the story. Then start thinking about your idea while looking at the page on your screen, when you feel the idea, then write!
Keep in mind that you may need to go through many revisions regardless after you have a complete draft. So, some kerfuffles at this point may be OK, unavoidable, and/or lead to interesting plot points later. Also, keep in mind that most readers do not want an absolutely monotone story, and that your characters are probably supposed to have emotions, too.
If this were me, I'd probably do one of two things.
Work on a chapter that is meant to be darker, when I feel dark. Or,
Write other stuff when I am not in the right mood. I like writing background for my characters as side exercises - How people met, what their worst fight ever was, etc. Usually, creating those experiences in a concrete way ultimately influences my story directly - I have a solid, consistent event I can draw from to make chance comments or even a minor thread through the narrative.
I find writing to be therapeutic. This is not uncommon. It may be that the act of writing will get you there. In a sense, this is like the comment under your question that compares the practice to going to the gym - even on the days you don't want to go, if you go by the end of the workout you'll be in that familiar post-workout place, and feeling pretty good.
Simply write. Only you can say when works best for you, but write daily even if only for fifteen minutes. Remember this is writing. You can always come back later and rewrite, add, remove. Nice thing is it is not permanent. Just finish the first draft and then you can come back with a clearer eye and edit. Never delete anything. Set up a secondary doc with your removals in case on their third rewrite you decide to put it back.
As a person who struggles with depression, I have the same problem you do. My mood greatly impacts my ability to write, and what comes out when I do.
I can say emphatically when I feel darkest, nothing helps. I just have to be okay with not writing that day, or until my mood or emotional state changes. But there are other times when I can still act like a professional writer (I'm not), "cowboy up," and do the job (it's not my job) of writing.
To get to that point. one thing that helps me is to read over what I wrote the previous day. Or, go back to the beginning of the chapter or scene or whatever logical unit in the book you have to retreat to. Go backward in the manuscript. Read forward, putting the story back into your head.
Let your imagination crawl back into the world you've created, the characters, and let THEIR moods and action dictate the story. It may not always work, but for me, it helps a lot to get out of my own headspace and into the characters' headspace(s). Being there, watching it in my mind's eye as a movie, I can transcribe without allowing my mood, my emotion of the moment, impact what I'm writing.
And +1 to those answers about using mood-adjusting tools like music, or writing a scene from the manuscript suitable to your mood, if you can't step around it.
Consider lighting in your writing space, too. Or you can, as A N M provided, journaling to clear your head of the things affecting you might be of great benefit. Get the things holding you back out of your mind, onto paper, and be rid of them.
I hope this offers a bit of help. I know it's a tough row to hoe, but I have learned emotions make great servants, but lousy masters.
Something I saw somewhere on this site as an answer that I think really has helped me, and might help you is to write based on your mood! YEP, if you are mad, skip a few chapters to write the angry scene you have later planned, if you are sad, write the depressing scene you have planned, and so on! I have found that after doign this, the parts that are intended to be emotionally charged feel that much more real and authentic because you were feeling that emotion when writing it. Nothing says you have to write your book completely front to back, just make sure you tie the pieces in when you are able to :)
I know it's not much, but I often listen to music before writing.
When I started, I created a playlist of things I like and have the right mood, then listen to it for a bit if I'm not in a good mindset for the book.
Simple, but very useful if you spend some time picking appropriate music.
Listening to music can be good, as others have mentioned. Another technique you might find useful is to meditate for ten to fifteen minutes. Headspace has some good resources for this, they have an app which I use occasionally.
Aside from that, if it's a first draft, I wouldn't worry too much. If you're getting the story down that's all you really need. Tone problems can be sorted out in editing.
I find that in order to write best, uninterrupted, is to start really early in the morning. Train yourself to get up when no-one else is up, making sure that you are not too cold, get a drink. Sit, and write. Keep on writing until you hear others waking. Stop. Works every time. Interruptions are the devil's idea of fun. Write from the heart. Music for me is a waste of time. Just another interruption. I have written 49 pages before my son even gets out of bed. Job done.
Could you outline the entire book first, and then write whatever section matches your current mood?
I'm assuming you don't want the entire book to all have the same mood and tone, so if your mood affects the writing, that could actually be a good thing, assuming you deploy it wisely.
protected by Neil Fein♦ Nov 14 '17 at 18:41
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